#1 July 30, 2020
We, who have lost loved ones who were afflicted with OUD (opioid use disease) are going through a doubly difficult time dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of us have thoughts about how our loved ones would have fared if they were still with us.
There is no right or wrong way to think about this issue. Some take solace with the idea that this would have been a very, very difficult time for them. We know this pandemic would have added much more stress to their lives as well as ours. They would have been spared this further ordeal and are in a state of “peace.” Perhaps, we might feel uncomfortable with this notion. Others might feel differently in that if their departed one was still with us, perhaps we could have helped them through this terrible time. Of course, all thoughts considered are valid for the individual.
When my son Zachary died in 2006 I had many conflicting emotions. I struggled with these feelings after the initial shock wore off. This took a while because I was numb for several months after. Luckily, I had the support of family, friends and coworkers. I went to work a week after the funeral in a dreamlike state. My job as a middle and high school English teacher and athletic coach kept me around kids and in hindsight was a positive situation that kept me going. All the while when I was at work, I was thinking that how could I be doing this? Shouldn’t I be at home mourning my son’s death? Along with countless rounds of should I have done this or that, looking back I didn’t know how or what to feel, besides bone crushing sorrow.
Persuaded by my wife and daughter I went to see a clinical psychologist. I never thought I would need one. Struggling the way I was, I didn’t understand that I was going through the grieving process. Talking to many others and reading their stories now, I realize that for the newly bereaved it’s such a helpless feeling and loss of control. Just know that whatever way your path of grieving is, many others have come out on the other side to ACCEPTANCE. And even then, it’s not that one can go on their merry way. It will always be a work in progress.
One thing you can take some comfort in, no matter when the loss occurred, is proof in numbers. There are many of us dealing with this double reality. Be strengthened with the fact that you have developed resiliency in that you survived one of the worst imaginable losses there can be. The stigma of OUD is in the rear view mirror, although awareness is not 100% in this country. The current pandemic is frightening, yes, but we are survivors. We will miss our loved ones, but they are forever in our hearts. The memories of their existence and the love and life we shared will nourish us, until we see them again.